Sometimes children and youth are the ones who show the rest of us the way toward a “Just World for All.” An abiding continuum of Love of Neighbor and a willingness to educate themselves about the world outside their neighborhood has led some UCC youth in Indiana to do remarkable things for the sake of the Gospel and all of us.
From assembling and distributing kits for the homeless, to building wells in Niger, and raising money to buy land for a school in Haiti they have done it all by following Just Peace principles. A signature movement that was born in the UCC 30 years ago, “Just Peace” has inspired many in our congregations to the work of doing justice and seeking peace in the manner of Jesus the Christ whose message tells all that “Peace is Possible.”
Who are these remarkable young Christians? They live in Indiana and belong to one of two small rural churches that share a pastor–St. Peter, in Lamar, Indiana, and Trinity UCC, in Fulda, Indiana. That pastor, Reverend Paul Jahn, has been their pastor since 1979. That’s almost 40 years of growing remarkable disciples for churches that are decidedly mission oriented. What wonderful experiences they have had and the places they have been in mission to worlds beyond their small towns! You don’t have to be big to make an impact and change lives.
These churches share two youth groups. One is called the Young Disciples for grade school children and the teens have a joint Youth Fellowship. It was the younger group that built the wells in Niger and the older group that secured the land for a school in Haiti. Over the years, they have forged a sense of accomplishment and community together.
The great call to Love of Neighbor can seem daunting, especially when one hears about stories such as these. But such a call can urge us to take a small step. The Just Peace movement has resources and inspiration and ways to begin to educate your congregation about what is possible and what small steps you can take to broaden your best hope and share your love with the wider world.
Go to ucc.org and search for “Just Peace.” There you will find a way to begin. You can also subscribe to the UCC newsletter “Keeping You Posted” and read all about what other churches are doing to spread Love of Neighbor, Love of Children, and Love of Creation.